« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

By Don Davis, Published September 21 2004

Farms receive energy grants

ST. PAUL -- The wind whipped through Gilbert Gonzalez's hair Monday as he announced seven Grant County people will receive federal grants to build wind-powered electric generators.

Each of the $175,000 grants will provide a farm family with economic opportunity, said Gonzalez, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's acting under secretary for rural development.

Gonzalez announced the USDA will fund 25 Minnesota renewable energy projects, most in the southern part of the state. Of those, 21 are for wind turbines and four are to build facilities to convert dairy cow manure into electricity.

David Norgard, representing 10 families planning to erect turbines in Sibley County, said they each hope to earn $20,000 annually per turbine, but could not make a profit without the federal grant.

Each turbine costs $2.1 million, Norgard said.

State Rural Development Director Steve Wenzel said Minnesota received more than $5.1 million -- 23 percent of the national renewable fuels grants.

Receiving the seven Grant County grants are Edgar Persons, Michael Reese, Dennis Williams, D. Paul Mackenzie, Jerry Larson, Carroll Stamness and James Aanerud. Persons, who handled applications for all seven, did not return phone calls Monday.

The Grant County generators will join other turbines in the western part of Minnesota and adjoining areas in North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa.

"Minnesota is a leader in developing renewable energy, and these projects will continue to further our ability to produce and promote renewable energy systems, as well as make improvements to existing technology," Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., said. "These projects are an investment in our future, and are great for Minnesota's economy and for rural development."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Don Davis at (651) 290-0707